Right turns at the half

BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

So, aside from Aaron Hill's rookie heroics in Toronto, what else has gone right for teams over the first half?

- At Wrigley Field, Sammy Sosa was not in right field, and nary a Cubs fan complained. Jeromy Burnitz, who earns $4.5 million US (not Sosa's $17 million) was hitting .275 with 14 homers 44 RBIs going into last night's play. Sosa owned a .230 average with the Orioles, with nine homers and 27 RBIs.

- The Marlins grabbed righty Brian Moehler from the scrap heap -- he spent 2004 at the Braves' double-A Greenville affiliate -- and he has re-established himself. The former Tiger is 4-6 and his ERA of 3.27 has ranked in the top 10 in the National League for much of the first half.

- With ground-ball pitchers such as Brandon Webb and Shawn Estes, the Arizona Diamondbacks wanted to improve their infield defence and did so by signing Craig Counsell and Royce Clayton as free agents. They have made all the room-service double plays, and some from Flagstaff, as well.

- Lefty Jeff Francis, of North Delta, B.C., is 8-5 for a Colorado Rockies team that has just 30 wins. Coors Field has opposing pitchers gazing at the schedule months in advance hoping they'll miss Denver. Yet, Francis is 8-1 lifetime at Coors.

- Bothered by rotator cuff problems Eddie Guardado was a question mark for the Seattle Mariners heading into the season. He has converted 21 of 22 save chances.

- The Los Angeles Dodgers signed free agent Jeff Kent and he has been the consistent run-producer they had hoped he would be, with a .294 average, 15 homers and 59 RBIs.

- After sharing second base with Jerry Hairston for several seasons, Brian Roberts has become an everyday player for the Orioles. And he is having a breakout season, one of the reasons for the O's first-half success. Roberts is hitting .350, with 15 homers -- his previous high was five in 2003 -- and 49 RBIs.

- When snow was on the ground, the Boston Red Sox had the names of at least of three free-agent pitchers on their wish list. They settled for righty Matt Clement and the former Cub has been better than the other options, going 10-2 with a 3.85 ERA.

- Shortstop David Eckstein and second Mark Grudzielanek have been more than adequate defensive replacements for departed free agents Edger Renteria and Tony Womack for the defending NL champion St. Louis Cardinals.

- The Marlins signed Todd Jones for $1 million to work middle relief. But he reclaimed the closer's role for the first time since 2001 with the Tigers and has has 15 saves and a 1.22 ERA.

- Dan Haren and Joe Blanton had poor months of May for the Oakland A's, yet bounced back like bad cheques with five wins each in June.

- First baseman Mark Teixeira leads the Texas Rangers all-star infield -- which also includes Alfonso Soriano and Michael Young. Teixeira is tied for the AL lead in homers with 22 and is fourth in RBIs with 65. He also is becoming one of the better defensive first baseman in the AL.

- Derrek Lee is making a run at the Triple Crown. The Cubs first baseman is hitting .377 (first in the NL) with 25 homers (second) and 67 RBIs (third).

- Centre fielder Willy Taveras made the jump from double-A Corpus Christi to centre field in Houston. He is hitting .291 with 46 runs scored.

- Carlos Lee is the RBI machine the Milwaukee Brewers wanted. They are 26-11 in games in which he has knocked in a run, 14-34 when he does not. He has 22 homers and 73 RBIs.

- Cleveland Indians closer Bob Wickman is back after Tommy John surgery at age 36. He has 25 saves, has made the AL all-star team and will take a run at Jose Mesa's club record for saves in a season (46).

- When the White Sox put their rotation together in the spring, they hoped their fifth starter could keep his head above water. Instead, Jon Garland has 13 wins he and the first-place Chisox are our top choice on the list of things that went right.


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